The Bat Islands in Costa Rica (Isla Murcielago) are truly a scuba diver’s paradise. Located roughly 48 km off the coast of Costa Rica and from Santa Rosa National Park, these islands feature a large variety of marine species all in one place.
Because the waters are considered a part of Santa Rosa National Park, they are protected. Just one dive and you will quickly realize why everyone makes such a big fuss about diving The Bat Islands even though there are so many other awesome dive sites in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is one of the most popular diving destinations on the planet. Not only is there an immense amount of beauty to take in on land while you are there, but the underwater world is even more enchanting.
When to Dive the Bat Islands?
To get to dive site around the Bat Islands expect a boat ride of 1hr from Playas Del Coco in Guanacaste. Many dive operators in this area will offer trips to the Islands between the months of May and November which is the green season and the seas are not as rough.
This time of year is also the best time to encounter the infamous Bull Sharks. If you want to dive with Bull sharks, the Bat Islands are your best bet to encounter these Apex predators.
What You’ll See While You Dive the Bat Islands?
Caverns and bridges make this dive site exciting, as do sponges and a variety of corals along the reef. And because the waters surrounding the Bat Islands are rich in nutrients, you will also find a variety of marine species who live there or at least pass through.
Divers regularly encounter huge schools of fish that include grunts and snappers. Manta rays may also been seen drifting by. Myriad moray eel species, including the zebra, jeweled, white mouth, snowflake, and more, are regularly found here as well.
It is no surprise, therefore, that these waters are perfect for some underwater photography that you can take to remember your trip for years to come.
Visibility will depend upon the particular spot you are diving in, as well as the currents at the time of your dive. Currents in the Bat Islands can be a unpredictable, so you want to be sure that you are diving with an experienced crew that really knows the waters surrounding the islands and that will be able to tell you what to expect while you are in these water especially since only advanced divers should dive here. Generally, though, the visibility can be anywhere from 7 meters to around 30 meters.
If you are really adventurous, be sure to visit the dive site called the “Big Scare.” This is the place where you will get up close and personal with bull sharks that can reach anywhere from 2 to 3 meters in length.
Other sharks that can be encountered in the waters of the Bat Islands include tiger sharks and white tip sharks, so be prepared for some breathtaking experiences while in the water with these majestic and formidable creatures.
And, in addition to the sharks, you can see a variety of other species, including schools of fish ranging from very large to very small, such as jacks, ladyfish, spade fish, marlins, sail fish, and more, as well as massive schools of breathtaking manta rays.
Level of Experience Required to Dive the Bat Islands
To dive the Bat Islands, you have to be an experienced diver. Not only are the currents unpredictable, but the marine life here, especially the sharks, can be quite intimidating for novice divers. You need to know how to navigate the water as well as the marine life.
Therefore, if you are new to diving, get a few years of experience first and some advanced diving certifications to be sure you will be prepared to enjoy the dive sites of the Bat Islands.
How to Get to the Bat Islands
In order to reach the Bat Islands, you should first fly into Costa Rica If you fly on San Jose you can take a bus to Playas del Coco which lies in the province of Guanacaste, where you should be able to find a few dive shops. You will need to book a day trip with one of the dive centers to get to the Bat Islands from there.
Would you like to scuba dive the Bat Islands in Costa Rica or have you been already? Let us know in the comments below
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Blog written by: Rutger Thole who used to be a scuba scuba instructor but he got stuck in a suit a couple of years ago. Now he is on his way back, as a the founder of bookyourdive he travels and dives as much as he can.